Housing Matters – September 2020

Housing Matters

Message from the CEO

Welcome to the September 2020 edition of Housing Matters.

This month has seen us witness the onset of an economic recession in Australia.  This event ends Australia’s thirty year run of economic growth.

The declining economic conditions and growth in unemployment are the wake-up call to Federal and State governments that now is the time to invest in social housing infrastructure. Governments have access to borrow at historically low rates  – investment in social housing infrastructure will deliver critical jobs in the construction sector, boosting economic growth and providing long term social benefits to thousands of families in desperate need for secure and affordable housing.

National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation research shows that for $1 million of economic output nine jobs are created in the economy. The investments that could generate that level of positive social impact for the cost are few. Add in the benefits of developing Australia’s housing supply and the long-term economic impact of social housing investment is almost unmatched.

Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, is correct when he states there is a need for a ‘revised fiscal strategy’ that focuses on job creation to boost economic growth in the face of a pandemic-induced recession. If governments are serious about boosting the jobs and supporting new growth, we know there is almost no better investment than social housing.

CHIA NSW, with our State and National partner bodies, will continue to demonstrate the financial viability of social housing investment through the Federal and NSW budgets. You can see more of our work in this edition of Housing Matters.

Alongside this work, we will support our members who on a daily basis are supporting those in critical need of housing. You can read more of their work in this edition too.

Mark Degotardi
CEO, CHIA NSW

Wesley Mission affordable housing project moves ahead

A development application has been approved for the complete refurbishment Wesley RJ Williams, an existing property on Glebe Point Road, to become affordable housing.

The approval was given following planning and design review by City of Sydney along with important consultation with local community members.

Wesley Mission CEO, the Rev Keith Garner acknowledged this important milestone, saying, “We had to take action. Finding secure and affordable housing in Sydney is almost impossible for low to moderate income earners.”

The refurbished property will provide 74 self-contained apartments, including a mix of studios and four-bedroom configurations for families.

“This is a first project that, with our partners, we hope will provide a framework to help unlock underutilised properties to deliver positive social outcomes and strengthen community inclusion and cohesion. The need for social and affordable housing is great.”

The NSW Government has sought feedback on a discussion paper that outlines the creation of a 20-year vision for housing. The paper also notes the importance of developing safe and affordable housing, stating, “Housing will be a critical part of our recovery from the immediate and fundamental impacts of COVID-19 and recent drought and bushfires.” Wesley Mission, along with other Community Housing providers, has submitted a detailed response supporting the strategy along with highlighting additional areas of community need.

The Wesley RJ Williams project now moves into phase two which includes detailed design specification before phase three when the construction work to improve the property will commence.

The intended refurbishment is part of Wesley Mission’s strategy to review its property portfolio and enhance how the organisation provides integrated solutions and support across its broad network of services which assist more than 200,000 people each year.

CHIA NSW congratulates Wesley Mission on their commitment to supporting new affordable housing and the redevelopment of the Wesley RJ Williams project.

Wentworth Housing to complete new women’s housing in St Marys

The fastest growing cohort of homelessness is older, single women. This being the case, it is encouraging to see community housing providers like Wentworth Housing take a leading role in providing more women’s housing.

In construction since early 2020, Wentworth Housing’s new micro unit complex at 42 Chapel Street, St Marys is nearly complete. This project will provide accommodation for women over 45 years old who are eligible for social housing.

A partnership between Wentworth Community Housing and the Department of Families, Communities and Disability Services, the project was funded with a grant of $3,000,000 from the Department and Wentworth Equity of $1,433,588.

The units are of a contemporary design, fully furnished, with access to private outdoors and common recreational spaces. Each unit has well-appointed amenities, shared laundry and NBN connectivity.

CHIA NSW looks forward to seeing Wentworth Housing continue to change the lives of women in need as they welcome new tenants to this development.

Keep updated with the latest from Wentworth Housing by clicking on the link here.

CHIA NSW to run Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy cultural competency sessions

CHIA NSW is pleased to announce the next step for CHPs committed to developing their Aboriginal cultural competence based on the Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy, 2017 – 2021.

Building on the sessions delivered in June and July this year, CHIA NSW will be running training sessions that take a practical approach to using the Aboriginal Cultural Competency Standards to support better outcomes for Aboriginal tenants living in community housing.

The training will unpack two further Standards and show how this can help CHPs deliver on their AOS commitments.

The two Standards are:

Standard 3: Person and Family Centred Practice

Standard 5: Service Delivery and Practice

These online sessions will be delivered in a full day block which includes a morning and afternoon tea break and a lunch break. Training is highly interactive. Participants will investigate how better service delivery for their tenants and communities can be achieved through improved cultural competence.

We are offering three full day sessions combining Standards 3 & 5 together with additional sessions to be offered in early 2021. Class sizes will be capped for a high-quality learning environment and maximum interaction.:

26th October Standard 3 & 5: Part 1 (9.00 am – 12.30pm) and Part 2 (1:00 pm – 4:30 pm)

16th November Standard 3 & 5: Part 1 (9.00 am – 12.30pm) and Part 2 (1:00 pm – 4:30 pm)

7th December Standard 3 & 5: Part 1 (9.00 am – 12.30pm) and Part 2 (1:00 pm – 4:30 pm)

The program is offered free of charge for CHPs thanks to the support of the Department of Communities and Justice.  However, you must book in advance to secure your place to do so please click the button below this article.

Initially only three participants per organisation may join – if extra space remains we may be able to offer more places closer to the event. We will contact you to confirm your place and provide joining details and session requirement.

WelcomeMat – Dedicated affordable housing rental search website soft-launched

CHIA NSW congratulates WelcomeMat on the ‘soft-launch’ of their new website earlier in September.

WelcomeMat provides renters with an Australian-first service, a platform dedicated solely to showcasing available affordable housing rentals.

As is usual for a ‘soft-launch’, WelcomeMat commenced with a select group of CHPs/listings and housing applicants to test systems.  With WelcomeMat now progressing towards ‘full launch’, it is anticipated that more CHPs will participate and list their properties over the coming weeks.

If you would like to register as an affordable housing provider (or apply for affordable housing), you can view the WelcomeMat website by clicking on the image above or send an email to enquiries@welcomemat.com.au

An update from NHFIC CEO Nathan Dal Bon

We’ve released two research reports in the last month. One explored some of the trends and insights into the first six months of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, and found that half of the Scheme guarantees were issued to single buyers with taxable incomes of $60,000 to $80,000, and couples within the $90,000 to $125,000 earnings bracket. This was well below the threshold of $125,000 for single buyers and $200,000 for couple applications.

Our second report in the past month looked at the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s population and housing demand. This report found that the global COVID-19 pandemic could cut demand for housing in Australia by between 129,000 and 232,000 dwellings over the next three years based on a range of scenarios. The report also found large falls in underlying dwelling demand are already putting upward pressure on vacancy rates and downward pressure on rents, particularly in some inner-city areas. If sustained, this could cause a contraction in construction activity that would add to the recessionary forces impacting the economy. (Underlying dwelling demand measures the impact of demographic factors such as population growth on the number of dwellings needed to meet that demand).

Please connect with us on social media (Twitter and LinkedIn) to stay up to date with the latest news from NHFIC.

CHIA National releases ‘shovel ready’ homes data

A survey by CHIA National was released in mid-September further demonstrating the viability of social housing investment.

Analysis of the survey by SGS Economics demonstrated that targeted investment through a Federal Government stimulus program 6,000 new homes could be built nationally.

Further analysis highlighted that 12,500 new homes would create approximately 7,000 jobs within the next five years.

You can find more details on the survey here and the associated media release here.

Capacity Development Planning Project launch

On 29 September Centre for Training in Social Housing officially launched a new project to guide the design of the sector’s future capacity development.  The project will identify the most successful methods to support community housing staff in their roles, given the often challenging and complex nature of their work.  This will include skills and knowledge enhancement through tailored training and professional development in regional, rural and metropolitan areas.

Over the next 3 months, the project team will work together through a series of workshops and coordinated research using human-centred design techniques.  This means talking to staff, business partners and clients to understand their current challenges, needs and desired goals, then thinking creatively about designing the most ideal programs for the future.  Overall, the resulting plan will help strengthen the sector in learning & development and workforce planning, thereby delivering superior outcomes for the sector’s staff and clients.

If you’d like to know more about the project or participate in the research to share your thoughts and experiences, please contact Claire Lawlor via email ClaireL@communityhousing.org.au